Tips for video game designers

I do not like the "typical articles of 5 tips for ..." or the "10 essential things you need a good ..." in the end is a short-stick concoction of 20 sites and different ideas that the only thing they do is waste the reader's time.

In social networks, we share micro-advice, experiences that we have lived in our projects, or that I have seen reflected in my students. But I want to reflect on those ideas with a little more space and without the voracity of social networks. In this article, I compile those that I think are good practices, a mental hygiene exercise, that I believe that all the people that want to design Videogames or game app developers for hire should at least consider, because no, there are not 5 tips that turn you into Hideo Kojima instantly.


When they told me years ago I did not quite understand it, but it's true ... flexibility is gained over the years, the younger I become more stubborn and inflexible. "Modify my idea?" "What a programmer will know about designing games!" Surely you've met someone like that or you feel reflected. I consider myself a flexible person and very attentive to the market, but when I look back, I cannot stop thinking that I should have listened more.

Our idea is not sacred, it's just a draft on which to build. Indeed many people will say nonsense and things that do not come to the story, but it does not matter, listen to them all. Analyze them and try to enrich the project with as much feedback as possible. Think of your projects as an undefined clay, you have to polish it and give it the shape needed by the market, the investor, etc.

Something that helps me to be more flexible is, once the original idea is finished, to look for a different approach as if it were someone else: how will the programmer see it? What problems will you find? And the modeler? And if you have a client or investor, is that what you would like us to do? We must try to approach the project from another perspective.

Expand your horizons

You have to leave the comfort zone and especially the things that we like. Normally a designer does not create the games that he would like to play, he does them for the players. Try to look at art books that you would never consult, read different things, and play genres that do not appeal to you ... so you can get new experiences and ideas for your characters or gameplay.

For example, the cinema (like the series) is an inexhaustible source of references for the design of video games. I try to see everything possible: from the most indie, for example, a Napoleon Dynamite, going through the most palomitero of superheroes, stopping to see something psychological like Enemy (I love Villeneuve!) And end up watching Tarkovsky's Stalker.

I always tell the anecdotes of several students that I've had, that did not see films that were not special effects and for which the 90's movies were already "old" classics. Personally, I cannot conceive the uncharted saga without classic references like the Teasing Mockingbird or the Secret of the Incas.

Put a focus on the players

I recognize that I have to make many efforts to avoid falling into the error of focusing on the competition and its projects. But it is a truth as a temple that the obsession of a designer is to think about the players. The risk we run is that in the end we always copy other ideas, other game concepts ... That's why it starts by asking: What does a player want? What kind of experience are you looking for?

It is true, as it is said in Marketing, that many people do not know what they want, but when they have it they enjoy it. But regardless of that case, it has always seemed to me that focusing on seeing what is already done is cutting yourself off from creativity.

In the end, however creative you feel, every artist that you think you are, we are service providers, our work is focused on covering certain needs of the client/player. Sometimes I think that the closest thing to a designer is a manager of a luxury hotel, who goes out of his way to give his clients the best possible experience. If we all saw it that way, other types of games could possibly be made.

Although they may seem truisms, and actually they are, I am amazed when I see how little obvious they are for many students and how easy they are to forget, because how good it is in our comfort zone!